City slickers giving it all up for life on the farm. It's a romantic reverie for most of us; leaving a 9 to 5 existence for a simpler life with less people, less traffic, and more blue sky. But for Dr. Brent Ridge and his partner, Josh Kilmer-Purcell the purchase of an old estate in Upstate New York and the launch of Beekman 1802 meant the realization of that dream. Looking fondly back to their rural childhoods, Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell recently purchased an old estate in Upstate New York and launched Beekman 1802, a local foods/sustainable living project and Web site. In a recent interview in Chow.com Ridge discusses the project and life on the farm in general.
Transitioning to Life on the Farm
Why would Brent, the former vice president of healthy living for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Josh say goodbye to life in the city? The heirloom tomatoes of course. Well, not exactly. The two had frequented the farmers' market every week and when heirlooms finally made it to the market they loaded up and $80 later decided it prudent to grow their own. Loving the idea of a subsistent lifestyle they decided to take the plunge and look for property outside of the city. Josh still commutes into the city for his job as a writer but Brent has taken over farming duties. Getting up to feed the pigs at 5:30 am is a stark difference from pin stripped suits and power lunches but Brent is loving his new role in life.
The purpose of the Beekman 1802 project, specifically the Web site, is to highlight local economies and farmers especially when it comes to sustainability. The site was initially launched to sell the soap that the farm was making from the 500 gallons of goat's milk they produce weekly, but it turned into something larger, almost a green farming portal.
With all sorts of fun and helpful information on the day to day workings of the farm, the site is shining some light on this gentlemen farming experience. For those with nosalgia for a simplier essence dive on in and take a read. You can find great recipes, crafting ideas, homemade soaps, and gardening tips.
The farm is also hosting an event called the Harvest Feast. The event is meant to showcase Schoharie County's local jewels. This community actually has some of the more fertile soil in the country but in recent years has lost much of its farmers to the Midwest and events like this serve to bring farming back to the area.
The ability to farm isn't something that you're born with, it's an acquired skill that's honed with every frustrating mistake. And Beekman 1802 is no exception. After a number of planting defeats, this heirloom haven is now growing enough food on its 52 raised beds to feed Brent and Josh as well as supplying the produce for a restaurant close by. The farm specializes in interesting heirloom varieties like black cherry tomatoes, purple pod beans, Chiogga beets, icicle radishes, and Queen Anne's pocket melons.